The picturesque hamlet of Dras is situated about 60 km away from Kargil, on the road to Srinagar. Popularly known as ‘The Gateway to Ladakh’, Dras is the coldest inhabited place in India and the second coldest inhabited place in the world (Siberia being the first). The mountain village of Dras first came into the limelight in the year 1999, when Pakistan Army incursions led to the Kargil War with India.
The first village after Zoji La pass, Dras is situated at a height of 10,990 feet above sea level. In the freezing winter, temperatures in Dras can drop to as low as -45 degrees Celsius. The lowest temperature drop observed in Dras was during the winter of 1995, when the thermal reading fell to -60 degrees Celsius !
Intensely beautiful, challenging and numbingly cold, this Himalayan getaway is like none other. Feast your eyes on these gorgeous images of Dras Valley – they will make you want to pack your bags and leave for Dras right away !
Stark Beauty Of The Dras Valley
Discover the raw beauty of the Dras valley as you watch dusk fall over the barren brown mountains. The shadows create different shapes and textures as they move across the craggy landscape.
The Dras River Gurgling Through a Patchwork of Fields
In summer, the gorgeous valley is resplendent with wildflowers blooming in colourful abandon, even as the Dras river playfully meanders through sea buckthorn thickets and a patchwork of fields in multiple hues of green.
Picture Perfect Wood and Stone Village Homes
From the flower-sprinkled green fields to the quaint homes in upland villages on the banks of the Dras River, the amazing sights of the valley compel you to stand back and gaze in awe at the vast expanse reflecting the soulful harmony of man and nature.
The Road to Paradise
The Srinagar-Leh road drive, which skirts the Dras river, is staggeringly beautiful. The lofty landscape of Ladakh unfolds itself as the dense green forest-clad slopes give way to desolate multi-hued mountains.
Enchanting Hamlets Nestled In Valleys
The tiny villages nestled between towering mountains are surrounded by terrace farms cut out along hillsides. Carefully nurtured soil is preserved between vertical walls of rocks and boulder. These terraces are home to groves of poplar and willow, orchards of apples and apricots and fields of barley and buckwheat.
A Legend from Local Folklore
On the outskirts of Dras is a place called Bhimbet. Local legend says this piece of rock is supposed to represent Bhim, the burly Pandava from the epic Mahabharat, and that the soil surrounding it has great healing powers.
The Hardworking and Hardy Women Of Dras
The hardy women of Dras carry these multi-purpose baskets every time they step out. They are used to carry mud, dung, crops, flock, children and just about everything! Visiting and connecting with the people of this part of the world is like witnessing life lived from another perspective, harsh yet unmatched in simplicity and tranquillity.
A Journey That Magnifies the Adventure Quotient
Braving freezing temperatures to reach some of Dras’ most picturesque viewpoints is one of those timeless experiences that add to one’s repertoire of exploration. The intense beauty, the peace and the thrill of travelling through the remote mountainous terrain of Dras is soothing to the eyes and inspiring to the soul.
The Pristinely Perfect Vistas of Dras
This is a land where time stands still. The snow sculpted landscape of Dras valley will touch you and move you in ways only nature can. The muscular rocky bluffs, strikingly eroded ridges and picturesque rugged valleys – all enhance Dras’ theatrical setting. If Ladakh is paradise, Dras is your stairway to heaven.
The Serene Masjid E Jafria
Every little bend and every odd turn of the street will lead you to peace and serenity in the town of Dras. With its colourful columns and decorated walls, the Masjid e Jafria is a beautiful piece of architecture that can be spotted from anywhere in the town.
The Guardians of the Gateway to Ladakh
The natives of Dras, belonging to the Dard and Balti community, are hardy people. They speak the Shina language and make their homes in small clusters of huts scattered all over the Dras valley.
The Gypsies of The Himalayas
During the summer months, the nomadic mountain tribes of Gujjars and Bakkerwaals make an almost ritualistic journey to the Dras valley through the formidable Zoji la in search of precious grazing grounds for their livestock. They set up their camps in the meadows in the highest parts of the valley. Clad in beautifully embroidered garments, the nomads are often escorted by ferocious gaddi dogs.
Memories of War and War Heroes
Dedicated to the war heroes and martyrs of the Kargil War, this war memorial is a testimony to the selfless sacrifice of Indian soldiers. Below the tricolour, swaying high against the backdrop of the very same mountain where the fierce war was fought is a red sandstone memorial. The goose bump inducing inscription on it reads: Beneath this earth young warriors sleep.
Remembering the Kargil Bravehearts
Dedicated to the soldiers who laid their lives for the nation during the 1999 war, the war memorial is located in the foothills of Tololing Hill and at a distance of about 5 km from the famous Tiger Hill. The recapture of these peaks was crucial to the Kargil victory as it was the first success in Operation Vijay.
A Wintry World of Its Own
In winter, everything in Dras valley freezes – the rivers, the lakes, the mountains. The spectacular snow-covered town is cut off from the rest of the world.
Polo On Top Of the World
Dras is known to host riveting contests of polo, the favourite sport of the landlocked region. Horsemanship is a treasured tradition of the Dard natives and polo is played with particular zeal and fervour in Dras. International and local polo players compete in a friendly tournament conceptualised by the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group to promote tourism in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Mesmeric Drive to Dras
Driving through Dras valley is mesmeric and meditative. But, at the same time, it’s easy to imagine the adventure of being part of the trading caravans of yore that rode in and out of this valley carrying fabled silks, spices and unnamed treasures.